The Valparaiso University women’s basketball team received several strong individual performances on Tuesday afternoon in Oxford, Ohio, but the Crusaders could not overcome playing without three key players down the stretch in a 77-68 defeat to host Miami (Ohio). Caitlin Morrison (Glenview, Ill. / Glenbrook South), Marlee Profitt (Medina, Ohio / Highland) and Grace Hales (Cromwell, Ind. / Westview) all set career highs in various statistical categories, while Meredith Hamlet (McBain, Mich. / McBain) finished with a team-high 14 points.
How It Happened
- Junior Hannah Schaub (Brooklyn Park, Minn. / Park Center) notched the first basket of the game, making a steal on one end of the floor and converting a layup on the other to put Valpo ahead 2-0 early. That sparked a strong start by the Crusaders, as a Hales 3-pointer lifted the lead to 8-1 with 5:55 left in the first.
- The Crusaders (1-1) played the bulk of the game without their starting point guard, as Schaub left with an injury four minutes into the game.
- The Crusaders held the lead for the duration of the first quarter, but the edge had slimmed to two at 17-15 by quarter’s end.
- Valpo’s lead fluctuated from two to four points for the first five minutes of the second quarter, before Megan Galloway’s fast-break layup with 5:03 left in the second created the first tie of the game.
- Miami star point guard Lauren Dickerson made her first 3 of the game with 4:14 remaining in the first half, a go-ahead basket that gave the RedHawks their first edge of the game at 26-24.
- Dickerson drilled another significant triple as the buzzer sounded to end the first half, propelling her team to a 34-29 halftime advantage.
- Foul trouble plagued Valpo’s leading scorer, as Dani Franklin had three in the first half, picked up her fourth midway through the third and fouled out with 8:12 left in the game.
- The RedHawks (2-2) built their lead to 11 points at 51-40 with 2:47 left in the third, but the Crusaders didn’t fold. Morrison scored four consecutive points before freshman point guard Nicole Konieczny knocked down a midrange jumper and followed with a layup at the buzzer to end the third quarter, cutting the deficit to five.
- Hales buried a big-time 3 with 9:18 left in the fourth quarter, shrinking what had been an 11-point deficit less than four minutes of game time earlier down to two.
- Among the biggest bright spots of the day was the Crusaders hitting a number of clutch shots down the stretch to give the RedHawks a scare, including several difficult looks that were converted. One of those came with 6:54 left, when Hamlet hit a 3 to make it 55-54.
- Morrison drilled a 3 to make it 58-57 with 5:51 to go, and Profitt scored an impressive layup with 2:19 to go to whittle it back down to two, but the Crusaders could never get over the hump as the RedHawks didn’t surrender the lead at any point in the fourth before pulling away for the win.
Inside the Game
- Morrison enjoyed the first double-digit rebounding effort of her Crusader career by hauling in 10 boards, five of which came in the first quarter. After a quiet scoring start, she hit several key shots late to finish with eight points.
- Hales caught fire from distance, knocking down a career-high four 3-pointers to finish with 12 points. Hales picked up her fourth and fifth fouls within 20 seconds of one another midway through the fourth, leaving the Crusaders without Hales, Franklin and Schaub for the game’s final stretch.
- Profitt was perfect from the field, going 3-for-3 shooting on her way to setting numerous career highs, including points (nine) and rebounds (six).
- Hamlet went 3-of-3 from beyond the arc en route to a team-high 14 points. She reached double figures for the 25th time in her Valpo career.
- Franklin moved into sole possession of sixth in program history for career made field goals, passing Amber Schober (1998-2002). She now has 474 made field goals in her career.
- The Crusaders shot 42.4 percent in the game and knocked down eight of their 12 3-point tries (66.7 percent). Valpo outrebounded Miami 36-31 including a 9-6 edge on the offensive glass.
- The biggest disparity came at the foul line, where Miami went 23-of-31 and Valpo went 10-of-17.
- Miami’s Dickerson scored a game-high 26, while three teammates joined her in double figures.
The Crusaders will return home for a Saturday showdown with Grand Canyon that will tip off at 2 p.m. CT. For those who can’t make it out to the Athletics-Recreation Center, the game will be carried on The Valley on ESPN3 with Dave Huseman and Renee’ Turpa describing the action. Links to live video, audio and stats are available on ValpoAthletics.com.